by Ovidiu Brazdau
Each of the transformative experiences described in this research has different degrees of depth and involves various unfolding ways. As some of them are quite rare and I could find no appropriate descriptions in Eastern or Western literature, I include here my subjective perspective and some of my field notes, to support future researchers in exploring these openings. Although this list covers a broad array of awakenings, this index presents only what I could experience and observe in other people during my researches. Further studies are necessary for making a complete inventory of emerging openings in humans.
Awakening from the collective culture-civilization hypnosis
This is a shift that occurs when people begin their journey toward autonomy and develop their personal system of values, instead of merely conforming to the group of which they are a part. This awakening begins with becoming aware of the consensual cultural reality and concludes by seeing how culture itself is the consensual reality.
However, I have met people who have switched from one cultural system (e.g., the corporate style) to an alternative community, without realizing per se how culture itself influences their inner experience. They just change from an unpleasant environment to one more suited for their preferences and way of life. Still, choosing a preferred way of living or a preferred cultural environment are steps that could ignite the awakening, as the person develops an increased awareness of group narratives.
Sometimes, this awakening may reinforce the self-identity by providing the ‘I am special’ energy, but this is a positive inflation that provides energy for further transformations.
The ‘I am’ experience: Activation of the witnessing awareness mode
This experience is about disconnecting from absorption in the mind self/ego and discovering new ways of ‘being’ instead of ‘doing/thinking/feeling/sensing’. It is the experience generated by the activation of witnessing awareness (becoming aware of awareness itself). This type of non-conceptual opening is what people usually describe as ‘enlightenment’, providing the basic structure for various other types of non-conceptual experiences. The activation of the witnessing awareness is sometimes preceded by a dramatic experience of ‘self-identity/ego death’. However, in time, this ‘death’ can be viewed as a ‘relaxation’; what is dying is a rigid structure, and the lesson I learned after this awakening was to allow myself to be more fluid, more ‘liquid’.
This experience is created by a shift in the attentional configuration, from being permanently immersed in experiences and using narrow focus, to a diffuse-wide attention, and then a combination of attention styles, wide and focused simultaneously. Mindfulness techniques provide good steps toward the habituation of the witnessing mode, by calming down the streams of recurrent thoughts and supporting an acceptance of all that is, in a non-judgmental way.
Conscious embodiment – the reconnection with the body energy and body perceptions
This experience is a natural part of inner evolution, experienced as an ‘awakening’ by individuals who previously haven’t explored their physical body in a conscious way—although conscious embodiment is quite natural for massage therapists, dancers, or yoga practitioners.
For me, this opening was facilitated by Feldenkrais workshops and contact improvisation courses or jams. I discovered a world of impressive expressivity, and everything related to my body changed. As a result of these practices, my body awareness just opened up, and I became aware of how the psychological letting go emerges together with the relaxation of the body. This opening also gave me a new awareness of what food the body requires at different times, depending on inner experiences. It took me about two or three years to fluidify the body and develop a good body awareness.
I want to mention a few explorers of conscious embodiment who have amazing insights: Janet Adler and Andrea Olsen. Here is a description from Scott Kiloby: “An awakening experience itself is merely the first step. It takes a while for the body to catch up.[…] This exploration became so intimate, tender and gentle, like falling in love with every sensation and every thought about the body. A complete surrender to all of that as it arose. I would gently feel into the body all over all the time, throughout the day. It truly became a love affair. I started to see that all my life I had been looking for attention, love and everything else outside of myself. I was just looking for something to change how I felt, for someone to love my body, my experience. I realized that this is my job, not someone else’s. Looking for that outside myself is next to impossible. And it’s so indirect and inefficient to think that something outside of me will comfort and love my experience. It’s up to me to do that.”
Awakening to the energy flows and kundalini awakening
Kundalini awakening is a psychosomatic process that seeks a fluidified way of being, and the most accurate description of the process that I have encountered is Jana Dixon’s ‘Biology of Kundalini’. Over the years, I have met a few people in this process who have helped me to understand that the process of energy activation has at least three parts: the first part is pranotthana or the cleaning process; the second part is when the energy begins to flow; the third part is when the person can increase the energy without losing it by generating ‘heat’ (energy spikes that dissipate it).
Some people I’ve met have been at different points on this journey. Some decided that the pranotthana process was too hard to cope with; they began taking antipsychotics and got stuck in the process. Some people found other ways to ignore the drive, while others completed the pranotthana journey, entered the kundalini free flow, and transformed the energy into aliveness.
The damaging aspect of using antipsychotics, during energy awakening, is that the medicine doesn’t actually stop the energetic process. Instead, it simply blocks some of its features. I discovered this accidentally while dancing with someone at a contact improvisation jam. She had a charming body-contact energy, and she was super-sensitive to touch. We melted our senses into an incredibly spontaneous and deep connection, even though we had never met or spoken to each other before. However, later I discovered that she was on antipsychotics. But wait, what? How could she be on antipsychotics? Weren’t these drugs supposed to stop all such kinds of energy manifestation? But it looks like I was wrong in that respect. The antipsychotics just blocked her ability to consciously and cognitively manage the energy flow, but the energy still found ways to manifest. After some conversations with this person, I found out that she had an inability to manage and work with her sexual energy; this energy was manifesting itself in various forms, by radiating externally through an intense and over-the-top sensuality. But, in her case, the issues related to her increased sexuality were less important. The fear of ‘losing her mind’ was stronger, and so she decided to continue with the antipsychotic treatment.
Vibrational awakenings: from erotic to ecstatic, enstatic and beyond
Some experiences related to this awakening are available in the literature, described by devotional mystics such as Teresa of Avila, Francis of Assisi, the Indian mystic Ramakrishna, and Saraha (one of the founders of Tantra).
The first part of this awakening is the transition from erotic, externally-directed energy to ecstatic-internal energy. The next step is to allow all the energy to vibrate enstatically inside oneself without producing ecstatic explosions, by increasing the density of the energy body (or increasing the frequency, as some would say).
Allowing unconditional love seems to be an essential step here. When the energy body is configured in such a way that the high frequency habituates, it creates an enstatic-vibrating life most of the time, an increased aliveness that may look like a background ‘silent ecstasy’, not necessarily related to the sexual, emotional, or mental energy.
This is an excerpt from an interview by Jeff Warren with a Buddhist monk:
“What about the feelings of bliss and rapture? In the jhanas these are seen as part of a progression, aren’t they?
He looked out the little window onto the muddy tracks behind the house, then chose his words carefully. ‘This happens when an object becomes an aesthetic object for you, when it feels like the most beautiful thing—you’re delighted, fascinated. You have a strong emotional interest, like being in love. You pass a threshold where experience becomes so beautiful that there is nothing else you would rather be doing. Everything else fades away, even pain if you’re sitting uncomfortably. A lot of meditators get this. The object of your devotion can be anything—a vase, a piece of music. Once I was climbing up a hill and I entered an alpine garden of mosses and rock flowers and I got down on my knees and just gazed in wonderment’.
He stopped, a bit embarrassed. ‘This is a kind of bliss’.
‘So how often does that happen for you?’
‘It’s hard to say because it’s all a matter of degree. Maybe once a week or so. It began many years ago. I would be meditating and once in a while I would feel joy and delight, at being so totally engaged in the one thing. It was a kind of concentration where all energies—emotional, physical, intellectual—are centered upon one pointedness and sustained attention. I used to wonder how far I had proceeded along the jhanas. Whether I had reached level one or two or three. I don’t know how deep I’ve been, but to be honest I no longer concern myself with all that’. He waved his hands. ‘None of that is the point of the practice’.
‘So what is the point?’
He looked at me with great sympathy and patience. ‘It’s not about the special effects, Jeff. Meditation is about increasing your awareness. I would say that after twenty-two years of practice the main ‘effect’ has been more presence of mind.”
It seems that some people can experience a high-density vibrational life, in the body, in relative silence and inner peace, without involving any significant energy explosions through ecstatic emotions, bliss, ecstasy, or enstasy. Like a multidimensional buzz in the energy body, this vibrational experience is about just enjoying life, without manifesting feelings or any desire to actively share something by actions, emotions, feelings, or thinking. The energy is active, but in a ‘static’ vibratory condition. This transformation to enstatic living could be related to endogenous DMT production, as the inner experiences seem similar to a mild-DMT experience (or active kundalini). When there are no blockages, the energy flows naturally; the layers vibrate altogether more quickly, and they are more responsive to each other. The human being bends quickly and adapts smoothly, and this ease is simultaneously in silence and high energy.
Interconnectedness awakening – the shift from individual to collective awareness
This shift from individual to collective experiences is an amazing awakening, and it can emerge in all layers. It can happen when people realize they are just a cell in a big planetary organism (as in the spiritual ecology movements), and they discover group emotions, ‘hive mind’, ‘unconscious’ group communication, and collective awareness.
During this opening, perhaps the conscious connection to other minds is the most frightening and hard to cope with. My way of adjusting was to realize that, to maintain personal integrity, it was necessary to find and continuously sustain my own ‘vibrational style’. In other words, I had to remain centered in my own space while accessing bits of information from the social interactions.
Some years ago, I met someone with this type of super-sensitivity, who was able to detect when I thought about her. This type of bonding is usually experienced in couples with a good resonance exchange. Still, the shift from ‘perceiving my partner’ to ‘perceiving everyone’ is quite a step. There are only two ways to deal with it: by reducing the sensitivity, or by coping with it and finding a personal way of managing the information overflow from the collective.
Awakening the heart and the experience of unconditional love as deep resonance
Some women I met told me that they experienced this shift after the birth of their first child. As heart opening is well described in psychology and spirituality, I only want to add that for me, love is a deep and silent resonance with life, and full empathy is a skill that is worth developing very early in one’s inner evolution journey. The challenge of this opening is to keep a complete openness and deep connection in all types of interactions, positive or negative, familial or non-familial. Some of the preliminary steps for this opening require a mature emotional intelligence. Connecting through love feels to me like a deep resonance and intimacy with life. In ‘technical’ terminology, unconditional love maintains a continuous open perception of the connection between equals. There are no masters and disciples in love; we are all equals in this layer of emotional energy connection.
Awakening of the multidimensional awareness
This is about expanding witnessing awareness to reach a perspective from which witnessing is simultaneously experienced as a presence inside all body layers—physical, energy, information, and space. In my experience, this awakening was possible by splitting attention across multiple layers while keeping my global attention active. Still, keeping this multidimensionality was only possible after I had managed to center myself—I do not mean centering in the heart, but in the bubble-of-space, measuring approximately two meters in diameter, which includes everything from my body to my thoughts to the energy around me.
Consciously using automatic perspective mechanisms to create a framework for conscious awareness content
A high flexibility of perspective is usually found in people who are at a later stage of inner growth. Susanne Cook-Greuter describes the unitive stage in these terms: “Unitive perceivers can shift focus without effort and behold the whole simultaneously with its constituting variables. They operate within an expanded time frame which includes all of earth’s history and its future. Life is seen as a form of temporary and sometimes voluntary separation (Bodhisattva vow) from the creative ground to which it will eventually return. Though adults at the Unitive stage are aware of themselves as separate and unique embodiments, they also identify with all other living beings. The separation of self from others is experienced as an illusion, an invention to safeguard the [self/]ego’s need for permanence and self-importance, and to defend against the fear of its death.”
Usually, the mechanism that allows selection of information through perspective-taking is a non-conscious process, but it can become conscious, and we can interact with it in more creative ways than when it’s automatic, by allowing a higher flexibility in information selection and a wide variety of experiences that wouldn’t arise naturally.
To consciously access the perspective-taking mechanisms themselves, it is necessary to have a simultaneous awareness of their components: space length (the length of the space we decide to use for the perspective), time length, and various styles of paying attention. All three elements form a specific lens color through which we look at the world, and this color filters our conscious experience, by selecting the information that is introduced from non-conscious processing to conscious awareness. Inside the perspective mechanisms, space and time set the frame of reference, and attentional styles select the flows of information that reach conscious awareness.
Using this awakeness skill, we can instantly change the perspective filters with almost zero consumption of attentional energy. For example, inside the perspective, we can increase the space around us from two meters to an expanded space, e.g., by introducing the planet’s size. This changes the global view, but we are still denser in our local two-meter area of space, occupied by our body, and lighter outside of it. So, we can set the perspective to a planet-size frame of reference, but the content is still coming through the localized space, measuring two meters in diameter, aka our body. The result is a global view with local content. If we see this information flow in real-time, we can see how pieces of information in the spatial two-meter bubble of our body become entangled in a new way with the planet-size information. The same effect occurs when a person watches a view of Earth from above and allows the images to generate shifts in conscious experience (e.g., using time-lapse videos from the International Space Station).
Flow awareness and the modulation of life events
This awakeness skill combines ‘systems thinking’, ‘systems dynamics’, and an attentional style focused on the dynamics of transformation. It is an awareness of life events that unfolds in a succession of small events, which intersect with other sets of events. In other words, this is about becoming aware that everything is connected, but that some things/events are more connected than others. We can participate in these unfolding events with patience. Or, sometimes, when action is needed, we can invest our energy and modify a flow, by altering its speed, direction, intensity, and other such properties.
Life has become much simpler since I have started to look at the world as an intersection of flows and intermixing groups of events. The preliminary stages of this opening begin with observing ‘synchronicities’, but usually positive things are noticed. The less positive things are not seen as being in sync. However, everything is in sync all the time, good and evil, and this sync is fractally expanding to every level, layer, and depth of life.
Each of us has some way of contributing to life flows, but the key is to select the flows in which we participate, carefully. Some flows are adjustable, some aren’t.
Inner eye vision: merging of the inner mental space with the real physical space
This is a result of the perspective that everything emerging inside me happens in a region of space measuring perhaps two meters in diameter, which contains my thinking, my body, and my emotions. When I meditate with my eyes closed, I continue to use my eyes, but differently. I keep the visual perception activated and focused on the space. When the senses are internalized, and the point of viewing is this space, after a while, the eyes begin to work in sync, and the vision from both eyes transforms into a centered vision. This center is located in the middle, in the region between the eyes. The inner eye vision activates when the entire brain acts as a whole; I think this is the effect of the whole brain working in synchrony in certain frequencies.
In my view, inner eye vision has nothing to do with mystical realization; it is available through this simple training to interiorize one’s vision. Then, when both eye-flows synchronize, people can experience the inner space in a 3D/360-degree perspective, and this space is where things can manifest. The inner eye vision seems to result from the synchronized perception of both eyes, which generates a central point of view in a region between the eyes, together with a body-anchored spatial awareness.
After the inner eye begins to see, a wide range of inner experiences become available during inner art sessions. In my experience, the content can be either inner projections/inner visions or physical perceptions. With time, I realized that inner visions are just a visual way of thinking, conscious or unconscious, nothing else. Sometimes they are incredible, sometimes not. However, the physical perceptions are quite impressive because the area we inhabit is vortexing through space. The planet is moving around the sun, the sun is moving around the center of the galaxy, and the galaxy is moving towards the Great Attractor. Our experience is static only because of our frame of reference. If I tune into the fundamental grid of reality, or use various frames of reference, I find myself flowing a lot. Relevant to this topic are Walter Russell’s insights, cubic wave field theory, and Hannah van Houcke’s 3D graphics, which show how energy is vortexing through the cubic grid.
I have played around with inner eye vision a few times, by mixing the inner-outer perceptions with energy perceptions. With my eyes closed and in sync, looking from the center, I moved one hand in front of my body and tried to attune the inner vision to the energy flowing in the space occupied by my hand. After a few rounds of tunings and by opening and closing the eyes, I could adapt the inner vision to the actual 3D position of the hand. The inner vision ‘locked’ onto the energy of my hand by recognizing its qualities.
The adjustment of the inner vision took place this way. I was scanning through the almost-dark field in which these light-like particles were moving, and then I asked where the hand was, and I let the attention move by itself, until it arrived at my hand. After that moment, I recognized the hand as though it were a group of energy bubbles moving through space. After the ‘locking’, every time I tried to verify the 3D location of my fingers by opening the eyes, the 3D position of the fingers in both the inner and outer space was identical.
In this enhanced state of perception, with eyes open but eyelids closed, everything physical looks like a fine shower of particles, some of which are grouped within flexible boundaries. This exercise was easiest to perform in a dark setting, relaxed, but with an activated kundalini. People who live in dark environments for many days report similarly enhanced perceptions. So I guess the perceptions are related to melatonin and endogenous DMT production.
I have listed these separately, as they seem to be part of a different world of openings than ‘regular’ awakenings. Each plant/substance has its own intelligence. The experiences I consider relevant for my inner evolution journeys were mediated by ayahuasca, changa or DMT, LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin. Moreover, the sacred use of ganja is also a good tool; she is like a navigator, taking us where we want to go.
Some people use the argument that awakenings are possible without entheogens. For sure they are possible. But some particular types of openings generated by entheogens have almost a zero chance of developing without them. The informational wisdom in these plants is an added value for any explorer wanting to dive deeper into reality.
In my opinion, there are two ways of using entheogens wisely: as a tool for insights, to support inner evolution journeys and to live a good life, and as friends and allies for inner explorations, for taking us to where nobody has ever gone before. It is a fact that in nature, we have plant friends who can open some doors. And it is a personal decision to step through those doors and to discover new ways of functioning. And, after coming back from that configuration, it is our choice to decide whether the discoveries are worth incorporating into our daily lives.
Other awakening journeys
Here are some other experiences and shifts that may be included as awakening journeys.
Awakening the voice – Connecting with the voice and using it to modulate the inner core of our beings and its relation to ourselves and others. This is very visible in some musicians and singers.
The overview effect – This is illustrated by seeing Earth from above, described by astronauts as a remarkable shift in perspective. The ‘overview effect’, as a term and concept, was coined in 1987 by Frank White.
Space awareness (spaciousness, spatial/depth perception) – This is a shift in perceiving the physical space inside and outside, a transition to being connected with space as a deep and intimate experience, while maintaining a connection with the inner (body space) and outer space at the same time; an example is the unitary mystical experience.
Awakening the passion of being (awakened aliveness) – This is the journey toward allowing life energy to flow unbounded, while the pure heart is the home, and having, as a result, highly coherent experiences of aliveness and love/joy. Along with this activation comes the feeling of beauty generated by all that is, and this is a significant shift in the energy body configuration.
Spiritual awakening – This seems to be a combination of awakening experiences already included in this research, but all of them have this common theme: the rigid previous structure has dissolved, resulting in a powerful surge of energy/freedom that reconfigures the layers in various ways. This experience usually unfolds as a dramatic way to get out of the conventional stages of inner growth (i.e., getting out of the collective cultural hypnosis), and individuals begin to see the beautiful interconnectivity of all life, beyond their previous frameworks.
Embracing the curiosity for life – Some people are curious, and if they embark on the journey toward understanding life, and pursue it diligently, the process brings unique insights about all that we are, opening the mind toward what is essential in life, and it adds awe as a coherent flow in the energy body.
Information awakening – This is an opening to an increased perception of the information flows that exist in all body layers—physical, energy, and information. This openness allows the non-conscious processing to be available through body sensations and perceptions, emotions, cognition, and perspectives. Although rare, this opening expands the content that runs at the edge of conscious awareness, as pre-conscious awareness, which is more readily available to conscious access.
Harmonic resonance awakening – This opening refers to an increased awareness of the resonance processes, developing naturally in all body layers, in connection with life processes. This opening provides a complementary ‘filter’ for all experiences, through the lenses of ‘synchrony’, ‘vibrational resonance’, and ‘harmonic resonance’.
References (updated – January, 2022)
1 Brazdau, O. (2014). Witnessing awareness and modes of cognitive awareness. A terminology proposal for the psychological assessment of witnessing and (meta)cognitive experiences. In D. Chopra (Ed.), Brain, Mind, Cosmos: The Nature of Our Existence and the Universe (Sages and Scientists Series Book 1). Kindle Edition (1st ed., chapter 4). Chopra Foundation.
2 Further reading: James, M. (2014, April 25). Scientific research on consciousness. Happiness of Being: The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2014/04/scientific-research-on-consciousness.html
3 Adler, J. (2002). Offering from the Conscious Body: The Discipline of Authentic Movement. Inner Traditions.
4 Olsen, A., & McHose, C. (2015). Body and Earth. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from http://www.body-earth.org/work
5 Kiloby, S. (n.d.). Conscious Embodiment. Science and Nonduality. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.scienceandnonduality.com/article/conscious-embodiment
6 Dixon, J. E. (2020). Biology of Kundalini: Exploring the Fire of Life. Emancipation Unlimited LLC.
7 Warren, J. (2007). The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness (First Edition). Random House.
8 Further reading: Gunnlaugson, O., & Brabant, M. (2016). Cohering the Integral We Space: Engaging Collective Emergence, Wisdom and Healing in Groups. Integral Publishing House.
9 Cook-Greuter, S. (2013). Nine Levels of Increasing Embrace in Ego Development: A Full-Spectrum Theory of Vertical Growth and Meaning Making. Retrieved March 01, 2021, from http://www.cook-greuter.com/Cook-Greuter%209%20levels%20paper%20new%201.1%2714%2097p%5B1%5D.pdf
10 Russell, W. (1994). The Secret of Light (3rd ed.). University of Science and Philosophy.
11 B. [Ben]. (2013, August 3). Mirror Cube demonstration of the Russell’s Cubic Wave field. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NaDy4Kgtbo
12 H. [Van Houcke]. (2010, May 9). HannaH Vh [Video Channel]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/user/helenahannah